The £50 million fund is part of a £170-million package to develop bus networks
Local authorities in England can now apply to become the UK’s first all-electric bus town, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced. Councils and other local governments can bid to receive funds to help pay for a new fleet of electric buses. The winners will receive up to £50 million to help make the purchase.
This will help the winner to reduce emissions and clean up the air in their community. The winning town will be used by the government as a model for its plan to ensure all buses are fully electric by 2025.
Smaller efforts have been made to promote electric vehicles on a local scale, such as Leeds’ recent offer for free two-month trials of electric vans. The new fund is one of the largest pushes to promote electric transport.
The £50-million fund is part of a total £170 million allocated to improve services and make bus journeys greener, easier and more reliable. This is the next step in the government’s £220-million package to overhaul bus services across England and improve transport infrastructure.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Buses carry more people than any other form of public transport in the UK, and with 200 electric buses able to offset 3,700 diesel cars, it is clear they have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions.
“But Britain’s first all-electric bus town is just the start. Helping deliver on our manifesto promise, this £170 million package will help us to create communities which are cleaner, easier to get around and more environmentally friendly, speeding up journeys and making them more reliable.
“By focusing on efficient and affordable transport, we will make greener journeys the natural choice.”
The government is also making it easier to take the bus through a new £20-million fund to encourage on-demand ride sharing services in rural and suburban areas. This will help people plan their journeys down to the minute. The fund will boost traditional services by helping people use bus travel to get closer to where they live, at a time that is convenient for them.
A further £30 million of funding in 2020 to 2021 has also been confirmed for local authorities to improve current bus services or restore lost old ones. Every local authority in England, outside of London, is eligible for this funding to ensure that crucial bus routes can be revived or reinvigorated.
Passengers will also benefit from new low-fare, high-frequency Superbus networks to increase the frequency of services by investing in bus lanes and other priority measures. The first will be introduced in Cornwall next year, where the network will be integrated with the county’s main railway line. This will also see increased train frequency, connecting people with jobs, education and family.
Investments are also being made to speed up bus journeys. As part of the first tranche of the £2.5-billion Transforming Cities Fund, Derby and Nottingham, the North East, Portsmouth and Southampton will have bus priority traffic lights deployed to speed up trips to the city centres.
The government announced last year that it will launch the UK’s first-ever long-term bus strategy and long-term funding plan, to ensure that buses are prioritised into the future.